Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Ella Bergmann-Michel - La donna con la Kinamo 2

Joris Ivens & Mannus Franken: Regen (1929).

The Woman with The Kinamo: Ella Bergmann-Michel
    Introduce Madeleine Bernstorff
    Piano accompaniment by Matti Bye
    Viewed at Cinema Lumiere - Sala Officinema/Mastroianni, Tuesday 26/06/2018

REGEN / Rain / Pioggia
    Director: Joris Ivens, Mannus Franken. Year: 1929. Country: Olanda.
    Sog., Scen.: Mannus Franken, Joris Ivens. F., M.: Joris Ivens. Mus.: Hanns Eisler. Prod.: Capi-Holland. DCP. D.: 11’. Bn
    Restored in 2005 with the original music of Hanns Eisler
    DCP from EYE.
    Courtesy of Mannus Franken Foundation and Tamasa Distribution.

Tom Gunning: "Regen explores the effects of a single rain shower on a modern city, creating a synthesized view point through editing, moving across space and time (Ivens, of course, shot many downpours in order to create this single filmic one), allowing us to live through an everyday event with all the vividness cinema offers. Ivens’ camera is alert not only to visual patterns of reflection and refraction, of textures transformed by the sheen of moisture or an atmosphere veiled by soft rain, but also participates in the human interaction with this environment. The unforgettable moment of the little girls scampering through the frame wrapped in a blanket to shelter themselves inspired Ivens’ observation, “the skipping movements of their legs had the rhythm of raindrops”. This analogy cues us to the logic of Ivens’ lyrical editing and its role as a guide to a heightened power of observation. Unlike many avant-garde filmmakers of the late Twenties, Ivens does not subordinate such human moments to the logic of an edited rhythm. Rather, the human body and its blend of grace and awkwardness becomes the basis for a cinematic rhythm built from the gestures, and patterns of bodily motion. Ivens forges the link between visual observation and lyrical transformation with a filmic poetry that comes from a clarity of perception, and a direct participation in bodily motion." Tom Gunning, Joris Ivens, Filmmaker of the Twentieth Century, of the Netherlands and the World in Cinema without Borders. The Films of Joris Ivens, European Foundation Joris Ivens, Nijmegen 2002

"Ella Bergmann-Michel saw Regen in a matinee in May 1931, organised by the Bund Neues Frankfurt and their film club. She was deeply impressed and Joris Ivens recommended that she use the Kinamo camera to shoot her films." Madeleine Bernstorff

AA: Revisited the Joris Ivens / Mannus Franken masterpiece which we have also screened in a live performance with this same score by Hanns Eisler, "14 Arten den Regen zu beschreiben", later dedicated to Arnold Schönberg. The film also brings to mind Andrei Tarkovsky's book Sculpting in Time where he discusses the many manifestations of water as expressions of time.

Wahlkampf 1932.

WAHLKAMPF 1932 (LETZTE WAHL) / Election Campaign 1932 (Last Election).
    Director: Ella Bergmann-Michel. Year: 1932. Country: Germania.
    F., M.: Ella Bergmann-Michel. Prod.: Ella Bergmann-Michel, Paul Seligman. 35 mm. L.: 240 m. D.: 13‘ a 16 f/s. Bn.
    Courtesy of Sünke Michel.

Madeleine Bernstorff: "In August 1932, in the Bund neues Frankfurt group magazine, news appeared of the closure of the Bauhaus in Dessau by the town council, the sign of a political situation that was now coming to a head. Ella Bergmann-Michel was already under police surveillance during the filming of her documentary on street vendors. In the autumn of 1932, during the last free electoral campaign, she walked the streets of Frankfurt with her camera, documenting the streets decorated with banners, the electoral manifestos posted on columns, a march of Nazis in uniform taken overhead from the window of her studio, the endless discussions between people on the street, a large demonstration on the banks of the Main and, finally, a Nazi electoral office. There, she filmed a street fight but was arrested and forced to hand over the film. She managed to save the material filmed beforehand, but was no longer able to edit it. These clips convey a very vivid picture of the conflicts at the time, and the lack of editing gives us the perception of a daily life at risk and the radicalization of the political situation." Madeleine Bernstorff

Ella Bergmann-Michel: "I succeeded in documenting the Frankfurt streets and alleys, already adorned with swastika flags and the hammer and sickle as well as with the well-known flag with three arrows. Then I had to stop filming for political reasons. (Filmstrips, photos and reports were published in the next to last issue of the journal “Die neue Stadt”, “Bund das neue Frankfurt”, volume 6, number 10.) It was January 1933." Ella Bergmann-Michel

AA: An ominous documentary on the last year of democracy before the Nazi takeover.

Fischfang in der Rhön.

FISCHFANG IN DER RHÖN (AN DER SINN) / Fishing in the Rhön (at the Sinn)
    Director: Ella Bergmann-Michel. Year: 1932. Country: Germania.
    F., M.: Ella Bergmann-Michel. Int.: Robert Michel. Prod.: Ella Bergmann-Michel. 16 mm. L.: 93 m. D.: 11‘ a 16 f/s. Bn.    The film was shot on 35 mm but only a 16 mm print survived.
    Print from DIF Deutsches Filminstitut Filmmuseum.
    Courtesy of Sünke Michel.

Madeleine Bernstorff: "This is the film that best represents the merging of Ella Bergmann-Michel’s artistic activity and her documentary work. There are also echoes of Joris Ivens’ film Regen: “Water landscapes as transparent surfaces, a vision of alienated nature, devoid of technical effects. The close-ups, details and overhead shots without a horizon create a feeling of flatness; the vegetation, reflected symmetrically on the water, is transformed into a graphic element, just like the vivid reflections of light on the waves […]. These spaces, lacking perspective, are reminiscent, on the one hand, of the experimental photographic landscapes of Ella Bergmann-Michel and, on the other, her collages made using layers of multi-coloured tracing paper” (Jutta Hercher)." Madeleine Bernstorff

"The fourth film, Fischfand in der Rhon, interested me mostly because fishing had been the impetus for my walk: I managed to catch the trout jumping in the river at dusk with my camera." Ella Bergmann-Michel

AA: Lyrical impressions of fishers catching fish and crawfish.

MEIN HERZ SCHLÄGT BLAU / Blue Is the Beat of My Heart.
    Director: Jutta Hercher, Maria Hemmleb. Year: 1989. Country: Germania Ovest.
    F., M.: Jutta Hercher, Maria Hemmleb. Mus.: Ernst Bechert. Prod.: Jutta Hercher per Westdeutscher Rundfunk. DCP. D.: 30‘. Col.
    DCP from Deutsche Kinemathek.
    Courtesy of Jutta Hercher.

Madeleine Bernstorff: "This portrait of Ella Bergmann-Michel, enriched with photographs, film clips, drawings and collages, links her artistic work to the use of cinema as an instrument of social reform, talks about her grotesque collages, strongly influenced by science and technology, her pacifist aspirations, the photographic experiments then used by the artist as preparatory studies for her short films, the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Film, and the film society she ran. The documentary opens in a desolate Schmelzmühle, the mill that had been home to the ‘local modern art museum’ and a meeting place for artists and art lovers, and where Ella Bergmann-Michel and her family went ‘underwater’ during Nazism. There are the voices of people close to the artist, such as the Dadaist Kurt Schwitters as well as her son Hans Michel, and obviously her own voice: “Our life is abstract, while painting is tangible once again. Yet, who knows, if the world becomes tangible again, we’ll have to paint abstract once more”. " Madeleine Bernstorff

AA: A documentary portrait of Ella Bergmann-Michel, finely tuned to her approaches as an artist.

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